The roots of empathy: A lesson from psychoanalysis

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Despite considerable improvement in our understanding of empathy and its development, most contemporary empathy theories still do not provide a sufficiently detailed picture of the developmental mechanisms involved in empathic development. These theories are not particularly concerned with explaining how empathic emotional reactions and empathic understanding manifest themselves and develop in different individuals. As a result, they oversimplify the nature of the relation between affective and cognitive aspects of empathy and are not useful in clinical practice. This paper suggests that a closer look at psychoanalytic insights into empathy and empathic development can help us understand why we differ in our empathic capacities. This will shed more light on the way cognitive and affective aspects of empathy relate, helping us overcome the existing gap between theoretical models and clinical practice. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Radenovic, L. (2011). The roots of empathy: A lesson from psychoanalysis. In Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences (Vol. 30, pp. 485–490).

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